Today, I came across this exchange on Facebook, between one of my friends and an employee at Wired.com. I thought it was worth reposting.
My friend began:
“dear WIRED: how is the person choosing the completely inaccurate titles for your articles and the incessant rambling content still hired? all these sensationalist click-bait links…if you were true to your name you might realize your target audience uses plugins like ad-block and ghostery, so find your revenue elsewhere or else we tech readers are going elsewhere. Sincerely Roxy”
And then, to my somewhat surprise, my friends got a response from someone at Wired:
Specific to the concern you’ve raised, feel free to contact Wired’s Managing Editor Jacob Young, via his twitter @jake65, to offer specific advice and criticism.
More generally, as a near-nonagenarian, and multi-billionaire, I know that time is the most important resource in life, so thank you for spending some of your time in an effort to improve one of my family’s financial holdings, Wired. Similar to the critique you’ve offered, Richard Pérez-Peña, in his 2008 article for the New York Times, rhetorically asked whether I could “keep Condé Nast’s gloss going.” (Condé Nast, which I also own, it the parent-company of Wired.)
Talk of solvency should include talk of history
In 12 years Pérez-Peña, now 51, will have seen nearly half the days as Condé Nast, now 115 years old; yet for each day of the author’s life—the company’s “gloss” kept going: when Richard was a baby in Cuba, when his family moved him to LA as a child, when his first day of kindergarten began, when his parents proudly hugged him at his high school graduation, when he aimlessly studied European History at a private liberals arts college, when he channeled that trivia into winning Jeopard 5 times, when he bought his first car, kissed his first girl, ironed his first shirt, got his first hangover, when he straightened out, when he started a family, when he got his first gig as a freelance reporter for the New York Times—right up until he wrote an article doubting the solvency of Condé Nast: during all that time, during each of those episodes of the author’s life—Condé Nast was publishing content, selling advertisement, employing people.
Talk of the future should include talk of statistics, trends
Later, in his article, the NY Times author mentioned a few other of my ventures: Vogue, The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, Glamour, Vanity Fair, Gourmet, GQ. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. Perhaps, also, you’ve heard of a website called Reddit. That’s mine too. And, as one Reddit user put it, on the 6th of September 2011: “When Reddit was acquired in October 2006 by Condé Nast, it was receiving about 700k page views per day. Now, Reddit routinely gets that much traffic in 15 minutes.” That user, Erik Martin, is the General Manager of Reddit.
Reddit is one example of my family’s ventures that will surely endure long after I do not. However, AdBlockPlus, etc, is an example of a fad that likely won’t outlive me: the former is a foremost outlet for user-generated, social-media content; the latter is a few lines of code; the former is a self-sustaining asset, the worth of which Forbes has estimated at $240 million. The latter squeaks by, shielding aimless users from the aimless advertising on aimless webpages—not a very sustainable line of work, because aimless webpages and aimless advertisers die anyways, amid the competitive marketplace of ideas.
Like well-spent time, good ideas are a crucial resources of life. So, again, I thank you for your time and ideas, and I hope you appreciate my time, and that you will consider some of the ideas I’ve mentioned to you in this response.
Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr.
2014, August 7th